Vaughn’s View: Bountiful and durable recipe combinations – Part 1 By Vaughn Fletcher

Combination recipe baskets highlighting perennial introductions at the Costa Farms spring trial are created for long season performance and grower success.

I visited the Costa Premier spring trial during week nine to evaluate the new annuals for 2023-24 and highlighted many of the unique, floriferous and dynamic introductions from that visit in recent articles. In week 18, I returned to the trial to view and evaluate the combination recipe baskets and perennial introductions with a focus on the recipe combinations in the basket trial.

Fourteen international flower breeders entered material in the trial consisting of 84 unique, colorful recipes. Two of each basket recipe, consisting of six to nine liner components, were planted in two-gallon fiber containers weeks 49 and 50 in the greenhouse and moved to the trial site week seven. The condition and maturity of the baskets on week 18 is similar in performance to the northern trials in late August and early September.

The environmental conditions during the spring season in Florida were extreme, with high temperatures, high humidity and excessive rain. The baskets I chose to include consisted of current, new and experimental combinations that demonstrated durability, color stability, balance, uniform timing, component compatibility, floriferousness, and enduring weather tolerance. These multiple attributes will provide the consumer with a designer recipe that will achieve the goal of long season performance and ultimate success.



(Shown above) This experimental recipe incorporates ‘SuperCal Yellow Sun,’ ‘SuperCal Sunset Orange’ and the new ‘SuperCal Premium Red Maple’ for 2024. I highlighted the vibrance, color stability and prolific flower canopy of ‘SuperCal Premium Red Maple’ in my April Costa article. This new petchoa SuperCal Premium selection with reddish tones is a dynamic component, which creates a complementary combination of warm colors that generate energy and excitement. Numerous articles I have written over the years on the exceptional performance of breeder recipes in summer trials have highlighted assorted petchoa SuperCal combinations. The multiple attributes include heat and cold tolerance, large flowers, quick rain recovery, mounded habit and unique colors that have application for spring, summer and fall seasons.


PanAmerican Seed

This basket recipe combines begonia ‘Megawatt Bronze Leaf Red Improved’ for 2024 and the new asparagus ‘Fuzzy Fern Frizz.’ The purpose of this experimental combination is to demonstrate the improved bronze foliage color, shorter internodes and improved habit of the Megawatt begonia and the revolutionary new ‘Fuzzy Fern Frizz’ asparagus. What is so revolutionary about this new asparagus? Seed availability and seed quality has been problematic for many years with the current asparagus ‘Sprengeri’ on the market. ‘Fuzzy Fern Frizz’ offers multiple features including reliable high quality seed, finer texture, shorter internodes and bright green needle-like foliage. The economic benefit is a higher germination rate resulting in a lower input cost. ‘Fuzzy Fern Frizz’ will provide a versatile accent and foliage plant for sun or shade in baskets, combinations and indoor use. Based on the performance in the Costa trial, this variety will become a staple in many spring programs in 2024. This combination also generated the most interest on my Facebook page.


Syngenta Flowers

This new Kwik Kombo incorporates petunia ‘Itsy Magenta’, ‘Itsy White’ and the new ‘Itsy Pink’ for 2024. The balance, consistent flower size, color retention, weather tolerance and floriferousness of this Trifecta Mix was impressive. When ‘Itsy Magenta’ was introduced a few years ago, I was awed with the uniformity, tight internodes, branching, color stability and exceptional flower coverage. The ‘Itsy White’ and new ‘Itsy Pink’ match the ‘Itsy Magenta’ in presentation and performance. They have been utilized in mixed containers and baskets the past two years as fillers and spillers and have demonstrated outstanding flower power and durability. I have grown them in my summer mixed containers and they have flowered profusely until early autumn.


Proven Winners

This recipe is not in the bundled kit program for 2024, but it was an outstanding combination in the trial. The components were plectranthus ‘Proven Accents variegata’, petunia ‘Supertunia Really Red’, and lantana ‘Luscious Basket Tangelo.’ This combination demonstrates the importance of plectranthus variegata to add contrast in both color and form. The ‘Supertunia Really Red’ manifested vigor and large, stable flowers, which is reflective of the entire Supertunia line. The lantana ‘Luscious Basket Tangelo’ was introduced in 2022 for the 2023 season as a trailing, mounded selection with large multicolored umbels, and it manifested these traits with its prodigious, eye-catching flower canopy.


Ball FloraPlant

This new MixMasters recipe for 2024 consists of lantana ‘Shamrock Peach Improved’, ‘Shamrock Orange Flame Improved’ and the new ‘Shamrock Butterscotch Glow’, which was introduced for the 2023 season. What comes to mind when I think about this lantana series is the exceptional uniformity, uniform timing, well branched and mounded habit, and the large multicolored inflorescences as exemplified in this new MixMaster recipe.


Ball FloraPlant

This is an experimental MixMaster season extender that includes angelonia ‘AngelMist Dark Purple’, scaevola ‘White Sparkle’ and the new lantana ‘PassionFruit’, which has received rave reviews this year and did not disappoint in this trial. I was excited to see it as a component in the basket trial where it manifested the attributes that have been promoted in many publications. I highlighted its exceptional performance in the trial beds in an earlier article this spring. So what are these attributes? It possesses a spreading, trailing habit, large polychromatic rose/pink/yellow umbels, a prolific flower canopy and heavy flower coverage above the foliage. When you combine this lantana with the heat loving and resilient angelonia ‘AngelMist Dark Purple’ and scaevola ‘White Sparkle’, you have a combination that will go the distance and provide color throughout the summer and early fall.



Westhoff offers over 20 multispecies Passion Combo collections, and many of them incorporate the Chameleon calibrachoas. The Rapunzel mix is in the current program, and its components are ‘Chameleon Blueberry Scone’, ‘Chameleon Pink Diamond’, and ‘Chameleon Tart Deco.’ This recipe demonstrated durability, color stability, and similar vigor and timing. Very few monocultural calibrachoa recipe combinations can match the Chameleons for the range of multicolored transitional petals. There are over 40 varieties in the collection, providing an incredible array of grower choices for specific color schemes. I have been impressed throughout the years with the summer performance, flower size, sharpness of specific color patterns and flower coverage.


Selecta One

This Trixi was an experimental introduction in the Costa Premiere spring trial in 2022, and I was enamored at that time with the performance, the dynamic components, and the color patterns. The components are verbena ‘Lascar Orange Lava’, calibrachoa ‘MiniFamous Uno White Gold’ and calibrachoa ‘MiniFamous Uno Yellow+Red Vein.’ I was excited to see this Trixi recipe added to the program for 2024. I highlighted the unique colors, floriferousness, and performance of the ‘Lascar Orange Lava’ and ‘MiniFamous White Gold’ in the Costa trial last spring. They were consistently strong performers in multiple trials last year. This is a creative recipe with the vibrant saturation of Orange Lava, the distinct rose/red throat of the Uno Yellow+Red Vein, and the reflective power of Uno White Gold, which brings contrast to the various colors in the recipe.



This Durabella recipe was introduced for the 2023 season and consists of calibrachoa ‘Colibri Orange’, ‘Colibri Pink Flamingo’, and ‘Colibri Yellow Canary.’ Danziger offers four series of calibrachoa: Lia, Eyeconic, Ombre, and the Colibri series, which offers the most controlled growth habit of the portfolio. The compactness, color saturation, and color stability were evident in the Hummingbird Haven combination following 11 weeks in the trial garden. This is a festive and dynamic Durabella recipe that reflects excitement, visual intensity, and power.


Dümmen Orange

The components of this new Bloomtastic recipe for 2024 are calibrachoa ‘Bloomtastic Rose Quartz’, ‘Bloomtastic Serenity’ and ‘Bloomtastic Purple.’ This basket combination demonstrated the vibrancy, trailing habit, timing, flower size and prolific flower canopy of the Bloomtastic series. This most vigorous series in the Dümmen Orange calibrachoa portfolio was introduced in 2018 and has established itself as one of the premiere calibrachoa series in the industry. The features and benefits of this series are extra large iridescent blossoms, vigor, floriferousness, uniformity, heat and humidity tolerance, day length neutrality, durability, and versatility in patio containers and baskets.


Suntory Flowers

This is an experimental Suntory recipe that demonstrated the weather tolerance, color stability, prolific flowering and vigorous growth habit of lobelia ‘Trailing Blue with Eye’ and the petunia ‘Surfinia Heartbeat Improved.’ Florida spring weather conditions are not kind to petunias and lobelias, but these Suntory varieties manifested the resilience that we see later in the summer in the northern trials. We have a multitude of lobelias and novelty petunias available in the industry with different growth habits and flower patterns, and Suntory genetics continually rises to the top when it comes to summer performance.



The availability and diversity of breeder accent plant programs has grown significantly the past few years. They have become essential components in designer recipes and grower combinations. They offer the traits of unusual textures, foliage colors and leaf forms. The Westhoff FanciFillers program offers a wide range of accent plants with production application in quarts, mixed patio containers and mixed baskets. The Passion Combo Fancy Mix is comprised of didelta ‘Silver Strand’, alternanthera ‘Choco Chili’ and lysimachia ‘Karat’. The three varieties offered a striking contrast, which is the purpose of an accent selection. The soft gray of the didelta adds texture and subtlety to the mix, the alternanthera intensifies the color of the adjacent components, and the yellow of the lysimachia produces brightness and visual energy. The growth and layering of the plants was impressive in the combination, and they demonstrated the value, visual power and performance of accent components in creative recipes.


Syngenta Flowers

I chose this colorful and resilient early season Kwik Kombo introduction for 2023 in my Costa basket article last year. There are specific recipe combinations you see for the first time, and you know, based on the components, colors, uniformity and summer hardiness, that this is one of those special recipes. It was entered in many trial locations and was one of the most outstanding recipe performers. The components are petunia ‘Dekko Banana’, ‘Dekko Deep Lavender Vein’ and ‘Dekko White.’ The petunia Dekko series is comprised of 11 bicolor and core colors and provides production diversity in quarts, patio containers, baskets and landscapes. The Dekko Dare Devil Mix is a festive and eye-catching recipe that demonstrates uniformity, a mounded trailing habit, color stability, floriferousness and vigor as depicted in the enclosed photograph. As I have stated before, not all breeder recipes are created equal in terms of resilience, but the Dekko Dare Devil Mix, based on performance last year and early this summer, is worthy of your consideration for the 2024 season.

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Vaughn Fletcher

Vaughn Fletcher is president of Fletcher Consulting. He has been in the horticulture industry since 1971, working in many areas including landscaping, garden center and greenhouse production, greenhouse, and nursery sales and sales management. He can be reached at